Another day, another comic book review. But this time, a villain takes centre stage.

Because alongside Doctor Strange, Triumph and Torment is also the story of the Fantastic Four’s greatest foe… Doctor Doom! What is the extent of his magical abilities, and what drives the armour-clad conqueror to pursue the mystic arts with such vigour?

Published by: Marvel
Written by: Roger Stern
Art by: Mike Mignola 
Year: 1989

Collects: Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment #1

PLOT: Every hundred years the sorcerer known as Aged Gengis and trio of godlike mystical beings known as the Vishanti unite the greatest magic-wielders on Earth to take part in a tournament that will decide the identity of the Sorcerer Supreme. Among this tournament’s contestants are the hero known as Doctor Strange, and the villainous Doctor Doom. 

However, the tournament is only the start of these two men’s time together, as Doom enlists Strange to journey with him into Hell to save the soul of his deceased mother. 

But powerful though they are, can these two truly stand a chance against the immense powers of the devil Mephisto?

REVIEW: While graphic novels aren’t all that unique nowadays, reading a classic Marvel tale that’s contained like this one feels quite refreshing. Clocking in at just over eighty pages, Triumph and Torment takes readers on a fairly brief but extensive voyage through the magical side of the Marvel Universe and into the depths of hell. 

It gives a succinct overview of the origins of both Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom, runs through the key staples of their characters and powers without becoming too expositional (although your mileage may vary there), and tells a surprisingly emotional story. 

That’s because, while Doctor Strange gets top billing, this is really Doctor Doom’s story. Of the two, he’s the one that faces the most adversity – it’s his quest, and he is the one who struggles and undergoes an arc. While potential death threatens them both, it’s Doom who will be broken if the pair fail at their quest. 

And it’s clear from the moment that they drop into hell that the odds are thoroughly stacked against them, which makes their journey to victory even more entertaining.

This is helped immensely by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s art. Here, he demonstrates that he has clearly worked hard at his craft to become a master of horror and imbues this story with a delightful mix of varied monstrosities and dynamic magical battles.

His take on Mephisto in particular really makes the demonic lord seem so much more powerful and terrifying than he usually seems, where he’s just clicking his fingers and the threat is more implied by what he’s saying than the overtness of what he’s doing.

Here, in his element, he presents a threat not unlike a God to our twin protagonists and seeing the pair of characters from different sides of the moral spectrum attempt to use their ingenuity to defeat such a figure works well. 

In the end, as is sometimes the way with magical stories, the climax of the battle itself seems a tad.. well… anticlimactic, but the thought and emotion behind it make for a solid ending. 

This is a great little story giving insight into the side of Dr Doom that the movies have always failed to touch on, and it’s got one of my personal favourite characters (Dr Strange) thrown in to boot.

All-in-all, I give Triumph and Torment a…

Thanks for reading! Who’s your favourite fictional doctor? Let me know in the comments below! 

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